Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge: Birdlife International, 2001.

Slender-billed Vulture, © J C Eames

The Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001) is a huge work, published in two volumes and totalling over 3,000 pages. These pages are designed to make the wealth of information that it contains on birds and conservation in the Asian region more widely available.

These pages include the 323 detailed species accounts and maps that comprise the bulk of the book, shorter accounts for threatened species marginal to the Asia region and near-threatened species, and the introductory sections and annexes. The latter include an ornithological gazetteer of about 10,400 different localities and a bibliography of over 6,000 references.

The project to prepare a Red Data Book for Asian birds was initiated in 1994 by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (the BirdLife Partner in Japan), with the full support and financial backing of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment (formerly known as the Environment Agency of Japan). The project lasted six and a half years, including the major mapping exercise that is the most distinctive and indeed unique feature of this book. Never before in the history of either zoology or conservation has a major segment of an entire fauna been mapped using fully referenced point localities.

Another unique aspect of this study has been the full participation of the BirdLife Asia Partnership in the project. As described below, the initial data-gathering and text compilation was conducted nationally for almost all Asian countries, which has greatly improved the completeness and relevance of the final product. It has also helped to develop a network of people and organisations with an interest in and commitment to the fate of the threatened birds in the region.

An advance output of the project was Threatened birds of the Philippines (Collar et al. 1999), published by Bookmark on behalf of the Haribon Foundation in association with BirdLife International. This book was issued in recognition of the fact that, in Birds to watch 2 (Collar et al. 1994), the Philippines had emerged as the country with the world’s highest numbers of the most threatened species of bird, nearly all of them endemic. It was felt that advanced publication of the Philippine component of Threatened birds of Asia would represent a significant contribution to the intensifying efforts of both national and international NGOs to preserve biological diversity in that country. In this larger book, all the texts published in Threatened birds of the Philippines are republished almost exactly; with one exception, only the slightest changes have been made.

The series of links (below) take you through the various section of the Threatened Birds of Asia publication. 

Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book